Kapalua, and even though he had to withdraw

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SINGAPORE -- Felipe Aguilar thought a birdie on the final hole might give him a chance to win.
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. He did one better Sunday by holing out a pitching
wedge from 142 yards for eagle, capping a remarkable 28 on the back nine to win
The Championship at Laguna National. Aguilar closed with a 10-under 62 and wound
up winning by one shot over Anders Hansen of Denmark and American David Lipsky,
who were two groups behind and couldnt catch him. "Yesterday I thought I had no
chance," Aguilar said. "Today I said to my caddie on the 17th after I made a
birdie, If we can make a birdie on 18 we can put some pressure on the leader,
and he said What about making a 2? I said to him the way I had been hitting the
ball I could well do 2 and I did. Its very, very special." The flagstick was to
the left toward the water on the 18th green. Aguilars pitching wedge landed
about a yard short of the hole and rolled into the centre of the cup. Hansen,
who shared the 54-hole lead, was the last player who had a chance to force a
playoff with Aguilar, who finished at 22-under 266. Hansen failed to birdie the
17th or 18th hole and wound up with a 67. Hansen, who recently returned to the
tour after a six-month layoff due to wrist surgery, had led by three shots after
a birdie on the 12th hole but struggled on the final holes with a bogey on the
16th to fall out of a share of the lead, and two pars at the finish. "What can
you say? I heard (Aguilar) finished 2-2. Its just one of those days," Hansen
said. "Its just really, really disappointing." Lipsky also tried to keep pace
with three birdies on his back nine, but he fell just short of capturing his
first European Tour title. "I was still trying to give it a run even on the last
hole," he said. "I was still trying to do everything I can to win." Aguilar
started the day four shots back in a tie for seventh, but started to climb into
contention with four straight birdies to start the back nine. After a birdie on
the par-5 15th, he then sank a 10-footer for another birdie on the 17th and
holed his approach shot for eagle on the 18th. "I got a bit lucky," he said. "I
hit one of my best shots on 17 and then again on 18." The Chilean, whos been
dealing with a sore wrist he injured while mountain biking, won for just the
second time on the European Tour, his previous title coming in Indonesia in
2008. "Its been a bit of a drought for six years. Ive lost a couple of times in
play-offs and had a couple of top-3s and top-5s, but never was able to get the
round going on the last day, so it is nice to finally do it," he said. Hansen
was aiming for his first title since the Joburg Open in 2009. He was playing in
just his fourth event since surgery last year and was coming off a tie for fifth
last week in the China Open. "Obviously, the last two weeks have been really,
really good," he said. "Ive hit the ball really well and putted nicely so there
is not much to say. I cant really blame myself for this." Indias Rahil Gangjee
birdied his final five holes to finish in fourth place at 19 under, a stroke
ahead of Englands Chris Wood (67) in sole fifth. Panuphol Pittayarat of Thailand
couldnt keep up the form that saw him lead after the first two rounds and share
the lead with Hansen after the third. He slumped to a 74 on Sunday after two
bogeys and a double bogey, falling into a tie for 11th.
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. Directly ahead was open field, the end zone and the Seattle
Seahawks place in the NFC championship game.
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. It was the quickest three-goal sequence in Olympic
history, with the latter two coming just eight seconds apart. Kessel, Lamoureux
and Kendall Coyne all scored twice for the Americans, and Molly Schaus made 10
saves in her Sochi debut.
. - The Cleveland Indians will place centerfielder Michael Bourn on the disabled
list before their opener at Oakland on March 31.KAPALUA, Hawaii -- On the golf
course with the widest fairways on the PGA Tour, Zach Johnson believes that
keeping the ball in the short grass is key to success. On a course that favours
power players because the par 5s can be reached in two, Johnson didnt make
birdie on any of them Saturday. Stranger still is that he matched the best score
of the day and had a three-shot lead in the Tournament of Champions. The only
explanation is that Johnson is playing some pretty good golf. "Am I surprised?
No. Its only two days, so its halfway done for me," Johnson said after his
7-under 66 gave him a three-shot lead. "Im very comfortable as a competitor. One
of my goals every year is those par 5s, and Im a little bitter about that right
now. But Ill get over it." Defending champion Dustin Johnson birdied half of the
holes at Kapalua for a 66 and was three shots behind, along with Matt Kuchar
(68) and Jordan Spieth (70). Zach Johnson was at 13-under 133. Dustin Johnson
approaches the Plantation Course differently. He birdied all the par 5s with his
length, and only fell back with a pair of bogeys on the back nine when he missed
short putts. Even so, he was in good position heading into the final two rounds
of a tournament that ends Monday. "This golf course sets up well for me,"
Dustin Johnson said. "I can reach all the par 5s, and theres a few short holes
where you can drive it up close to the green. So if I chip and it and putt it
well, Im going to shoot a good score pretty much every time." So what does
Zach Johnson make of that outlook? "I would say Im up by three gross, and by
eight or nine net, based on that rationale," he said. Clearly, theres more than
one way to get around a course built on a side of the mountain on the west end
of Maui. Kuchar had his second straight round of 68 with some good birdies and a
few bogeys. Spieth had said he shouldnt make too many bogeys on this course if
he kept it in play, though he made one on No. 7 to lose some momentum. Even so,
the 20-year-old Texan had few complaints after his opening two rounds of a new
year. Webb Simpson and Michael Thompson, part of a four-way tie for the lead
after the opening round, each had a 71 and were four shots behind. Masters
champion Adam Scott, who can get within range of No.
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. 1 in the world depending on his two weeks in Hawaii, had a
70 and was seven shots behind. The Australian was in dire need to a low round to
at least have chance going into Monday. Zach Johnson is going after his second
straight win. The last one was unofficial, yet no less memorable. Johnson was
four shots behind Tiger Woods in the World Challenge on the back nine and
rallied to catch him, holed out from the drop zone on the 18th hole to force a
playoff and then won on the first extra hole. Except for his Masters win in
2007, it might be the most famous of his 11 victories worldwide. "When youre
talking about a guy thats done what hes done and raised the bar, any time you
beat him -- especially if youre playing with him and come back from four shots
with eight holes to go, its going to happen. So I can deal with that."
Dustin Johnson has the power that is suited for Kapalua, and even though he had
to withdraw from the pro-am with a sore neck, he appears to be hitting his
stride. He twice had a batch of three straight birdies on the front nine to go
out in 30 and claim a share of the lead, and even after missing the short putts
on the 11th and 13th, he made three more birdies in the final five holes. Two of
them were par 5s. Both times he had a look at eagle, missing from 20 feet on No.
15 and becoming the first player all week to reach the 689-yard, downhill
closing hole in two shots. He two-putted from about 35 feet for one last birdie.
That could be attributed to a slightly more typical trade wind, though Johnson
still had to give it two pretty good pops with a driver and a 3-wood. The course
played about a stroke harder than the opening round. Zach Johnson is starting
his 11th year on the PGA Tour. He has won a major (Woods tied for second),
played on three Ryder Cup teams and knows his limitation. He said while in awe
of what Woods can do, he is past the stage of intimidation. And the same goes
for Dustin Johnson. "Ive played with him a number of times, too," Zach Johnson
said. "I like watching him hit driver. Hes not a whole lot different than a lot
of the other guys I play with because they all hit it a lot further than me it
seems like. ... I dont know. Dustin does not intimidate me."
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Posted 21 Apr 2017

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